Gilbert PD investigating 9 cases of teen violence, police chief tells town council

Jan 10, 2024, 4:15 AM

Police are investigating nine active cases of teen violence, Gilbert Police Chief Michael Soelberg ...

The Gilbert Police Department is officially investigating nine cases of teen violence as of Tuesday. (City of Gilbert Photo/via YouTube)

(City of Gilbert Photo/via YouTube)

PHOENIX — Police are investigating nine active cases of teen violence, Gilbert Police Chief Michael Soelberg told town leaders Tuesday.

“We are combing over details of past assault cases and arrests involving youth,” Soelberg said during the Gilbert Town Council’s 6:30 p.m. meeting.

The department originally reported there were eight active cases on Monday. Four of those were previously unreported incidences, while four others were reopened cases.

The new ninth incident is an assault that occurred in November 2022, Soelberg said. Police are only learning about it now, he added.

“This is an example of what we need from our community,” he said. “We are thankful for the victim who had the courage to relay the assault.”

Gilbert police chief says victims are mentioning the “Gilbert Goons”

However, authorities like the Queen Creek Police Department have defended their lengthy investigations.

QCPD Chief Randy Brice even cited the lack of children coming forward to report teen violence as an issue in a Dec. 21 statement.

“Some parents have actively refused to let their children participate in the investigation,” Brice said. “We need people to come forward and stand up for Preston.”

Brice was referring to Preston Lord, a 16-year-old Gilbert teen who died after a brutal assault by a gang of boys at a Queen Creek party on Oct. 28, 2023.

Reports by the Arizona Republic suggested Lord’s death could be related to the Gilbert Goons.

However, none of QCPD’s official statements related to Lord’s murder mentioned the gang by name.

Gilbert PD mentioned them in a Monday statement — and Soelberg called them out in-person on Tuesday.

“I have said before we previously did not have any reports that mentioned the Gilbert Goons, but recently, victims have been using that term,” Soelberg said.

He said Gilbert PD is working with multiple groups to “thoroughly investigate” the Gilbert Goons, like the Arizona State Gang Task Force and Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

Gilbert police are also collaborating with police departments in Mesa, Queen Creek and Chandler to look into the gang, he added.

Soelberg thanked the community for seeking justice for Lord and other victims.

“I can assure you that everyone here is working hard to ensure that anyone who has committed a crime in Gilbert is held accountable,” he said.

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Gilbert PD investigating 9 cases of teen violence, police chief tells town council